Firstly, Terry Goodkind, you are one sick bastard. Secondly, I have some things to say about you, both in your defense and in criticism of your book.
Please allow me to start this (long, but hopefully entertaining) review by quoting what other people on this fine Goodreads have to say:
"Terry Goodkind is a grossly inept writer, with the writing ability of a somewhat intelligent seventh-grader . . . his early work is grotesquely derivative . . . And yes, I am jealous—-that a lousy writer like that can have 600-page volume after 600-page volume published, and I can't. Because, frankly, I think I'm better than he is." -- GR user Icarus, Two Stars
"Goodkind's book is cookie-cutter genre fantasy, but it's not badly done, and if you like people narrowly missing one another, bondage, masochism, rape, and dragons, it's pretty good." -- GR user Keely, Two Stars
"Also, just in case Terry Good and Kind is out there, I am very sorry too. I wasn't too keen on your book, and I'm sorry this attack on your book was personal to your writing style and abilities. I think you are a cool looking man - one of the best with a ponytail - and I am sure you are as your last name implies." -- GR user k.wing, One Star
"Terry Goodkind deserves nothing but praise for this extraordinary novel." -- GR user Dave Jenneto, Five Stars
Since I joined Goodreads two years ago, I think I can safely say that I have yet to read a book that garnered so many one and two star reviews. Mostly I read books that I know I will enjoy, and so of course my reviews are nearly always above three stars, until Wizard's First Rule, that is. I am conflicted about this book. As many people have pointed out before me, Terry Goodkind, despite his success as an author, is not actually very good with words. As Icarus says above, Goodkind writes like an intelligent seventh grader. He has no concept of how people actually talk; his characters often sound like they're living in a bad fanfic. Practically ten minutes after they have met, our heroes literally say to each other "I am your friend." This is both naive and ridiculous. Real people do not behave like this (and yes, I'm aware that Kahlan and Richard are not real, just go with it). And especially early in the book, Goodkind's prose is full of weird, overblown, and highly dramatic phrasing. Example, the last sentence of the first chapter: "He knew immediately: this was the third child of trouble." I mean, what? Who TALKS like that?
Lines like that are symptoms of what is wrong with this book in general: Goodkind seems to be unaware that the vast tome he's written is completely predictable, and is obviously under the impression that all of his plot twists haven't been done before (raise your hand if you haven't seen Star Wars. Yeah, that's what I thought). You can also tell that he takes himself REALLY SERIOUSLY, like to the point of not being self-aware, and that leaves his book weak in a lot places. I also would like to point out how absolutely bizarre I found the narrative in places, especially that infamous one hundred page torture scene. Part of the reason that I read this book so fast is because it was entertaining to see what totally messed up thing Goodkind was going to throw at me next. Torture? Rape? Murder? Molestation? Magical BDSM? CHECK. CHECK. CHECK. It's all there.
As over-serious and bad with words and derivative as Terry Goodkind's novel(s) may be, I'm not going to sit here and rip him a new one just because I can. I think we all forget that we here on the internet hold a lot of power over people like Terry Goodkind. Here's a guy that clearly loves what he does. As derivative as Wizard's First Rule may be, it's obvious by reading it that this guy fucking loves this world he has created. I mean, he just absolutely fucking adores it with everything inside his overly serious, pony-tailed body, and he's given it to us, the public, to do with it what we will. That is a huge deal. Picture something that you love, something that you love so much it's actually become part of you. No, literally, I want you to picture that thing fucking inside of you. It's living there. You're keeping it safe, and you will rip people's heads off with your bare hands to keep it that way. Got the image in your head? Okay, now picture ripping that thing out of you, putting it on a plate, and handing it to a group of random strangers. Except, they don't like it. So they stab it a bunch of times with whatever is laying around: forks, knives, scissors, pointed food items like carrots . . . and there's nothing you can do about it. That's what writing feels like. And that's what poor Terry Goodkind did, and every time I make fun of his stupid phrases and his weird stories, I am basically stabbing him in the face. I am killing his happiness. It takes commitment to actually sit down and write an 800 page book. I defy you to hold this massive thing in your hands and tell me that kind of commitment isn't worth something, even if you don't happen to like what came out of it. I DEFY YOU.
I mean, maybe I'm just letting my issues come out here, but that is like my biggest fear ever, that I will write a book, that I will love it and nurture it and grow it like a creepy fetus, and then when I'm done with it, people will mock it and hate it and kick it in the wiener. Like, instead of being all happy and joyful like the creepy child it should be, screaming "EVERYBODY LOVES ME!" it would be in the corner pulling out its own hair and sinking into itself like a dying star. And that would be sad.
So, yeah, I am defending this book. I enjoyed it, I really did, for what it was. I also fully admit that I have abused my internet word-power before, and it's something I would like to stop doing. I don't want to be the person being an asshole just to make myself feel better, or just to give twenty or so people an easy laugh. And I can't believe I'm about to write this, but even Stephenie Meyer, whose Twilight books have almost single-handedly set back the feminist cause decades by corrupting the minds of our precious children, has feelings. That silly woman loves that stupid fucking vampire and his stupid fucking teenage bride. And even if I don't agree with her (I don't), I happen to think that's worth something.